Are You Drinking Enough?

Registered Dietitian Carol Matta offers some reminders and tips on how to find out if we are getting enough fluid to drink.

Experts agree that most healthy adults* need between 1.6 – 2 litres (1600mls – 2000mls) of fluid everyday. This is in addition to any fluids found in the foods we eat. So – how can you tell if you are getting enough? Try this simple activity. You will need a cup or glass close to the size you normally drink from and a measuring jug.

  1. Think about and jot down what you had to drink yesterday. Include drinks such as water, tea, coffee, squashes and fizzy drinks.
  2. Using the cup or glass you usually use – fill it with water up to the level you would normally fill it to.
  3. Now tip the water from the cup or glass into the measuring jug and read off the measure. It will probably be between 250 – 350mls
  4. Multiply this by the number of drinks you either had yesterday or you would typically have.
  5. This will give you the total daily amount of fluid you typically consume. Compare this with what the experts suggest you need.
  6. Still not sure if you are getting enough or want more information from UK registered dietitians on this topic? Look at this fact-sheet

An easy guide to get a healthy fluid intake is to aim to have between 6 – 8 cups fluid every day. 

* Babies, children, pregnant and breast-feeding women and sick adults will need a different amount. Exercise and being in a hot climate is likely to increase fluid needs.

Introducing A Cup to Infants

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Carol Matta of CarolMattaNutrition is pleased to have been part of a review of the literature on when to introduce a cup to an infant’s diet – which has led to a new policy statement by BDA UK – the professional association of UK Registered Dietitians. Carol has combined her nutrition and dietetic skills and her experience in Early Years Projects to support the BDA’s Public Health Nutrition Network’s review of the evidence on this important aspect of infant feeding. Published in March 2015, the new BDA policy statement  provides guidance for the provision of consistent advice on introducing a cup to the diet of under 5-years healthy infants. It includes an overview of the evidence underpinning the timing of the introduction of a cup as well as recommendations including the type of cup.

Inappropriate introduction and use of a cup to an infant, through delayed timing of introduction, prolonged use of a bottle alongside a cup, the incorrect style of cup and the provision of unsuitable contents (in terms of nutritional content and quantity) contribute to health issues in children and subsequent risk of non-communicable diseases in adult life. Key recommendations are:

  • A cup can be introduced to an infant at around 5-6 months of age, once the infant is sitting up and able to hold their head steady.
  • An open cup should fully replace a bottle at around 1 year of age.
  • The cup should be made of appropriate food safe material, have two handles and preferably no lid.
  • A free-flow, lidded beaker (that lets the liquid run out when held upside down) is also suitable, but the lid should be removed to make an open cup as soon as the infant has learnt how to drink. Cups and beakers with non-drip valves are not suitable.
  • A small amount of water or milk (breast or formula) should be offered in a cup initially. From 1 year of age, full fat cows’ milk can be offered. Milk and water are the best drinks for children.
  • Juice or squash are not required by infants, but if they are given they should be diluted 1 part pure juice to at least 10 parts water, given only at mealtimes and in an
    open cup.
  • For children over 1 year of age, flavoured milk and smoothies should also only be given with meals (not between meals) and from an open cup.
  • Avoid giving fizzy, sugary drinks and those containing caffeine (such as tea and coffee).
  • A lidded cup or bottle should not be given to infants to help them get to sleep.
  • An infant should never be left alone when drinking and they should always be sitting upright. Solid food (e.g. rusk or baby rice) should never be put into a cup or bottle.

The full BDA Policy Statement can be viewed here. An updated resource for parents and carers and those working with families with young children is currently under development.

Photo courtesy of V. Watson RD.